By Stephen Njumbe Sako
Bernard Okalia Bilia, the 13th Governor of the Southwest Region of Cameroon has been installed into his functions with a call for him to assist the President of the Republic achieve his mission of making Cameroon an emergent nation by 2035. The installation ceremony took place on Thursday March 29, 2012 at the Independence Square in Buea. In attendance where members of government, members of parliament, traditional authorities and other stakeholders of diverse ranks in public, para-public and private enterprises from within and outside the region. The occasion was characterized by speeches and cultural animation. Mr Bernard Okalia Bilia replaces Mr Koumpa Issa who is now Secretary of State in the Ministry of Defense in charge of Ex-service men and War Victims following a Presidential decree in January 2012.
Presiding over the ceremony was Mr Rene Emmanuel Sadi Cameroon’s Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization. Mr Sadi thanked the outgoing governor for his service, and reminded the incoming governor Mr Bilia that he is taking over the command baton of the region at a time when the people of the Southwest are preparing to receive the Head of State in the region following his announcement of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Cameroon in Buea.
He told the new Governor "to leave no stone unturned for the smooth preparation and the perfect organization of the Head of State's visit to Buea for the reunification celebration".
According to Mr Sadi, "the appointment and installation of seasoned administrators is a strong indication that the Government of Cameroon is willing to enable Cameroonians improve on their living conditions in all serenity and tranquil".
He enjoined the people of the region to preserve the peace and unity that exist in the country and to remain loyal and true to all institutions of the republic.
As per the projects that have been earmarked for the Southwest, Minister Rene Sadi called on the incoming Governor to be vigilant and objective in the realization of these projects, some of which include the tarring of the Batibo-Akagbe road and the Mamfe-Ekok road, which are parts of the Bamenda-Enugu trans-African road network, the completion of studies towards the tarring of the Loum-Kumba-Mundemba-Isangele-Akwa roads and the construction of the office of the S.D.O for Meme Division in Kumba.
Minister Sadi also urged the incoming governor to pay particular attention to the effective and efficient implementation of these projects which he said once completed, will considerably charge the Southwest and will contribute to its development significantly.
The Minister equally urged the incoming Governor to pursue the efforts of his predecessor in maintaining social peace in the University of Buea ,which to him should remain “A place to be, a place of academic excellence and a place where young Cameroonians are being trained to contribute, when time comes to the development of their fatherland.” He also enjoined the governor to follow up the commission that has been set up by the Minister of Vocational Training and Employment to solve the problem of the former Tole Tea workers.
On the issue of cross-border security, the Minister requested that Mr Bernard Okalia should be alert on trans-border security problems stating that he should give special attention to the implementation of the provisions of the Green Tree Accord as Cameroonians are awaiting full sovereignty of the Bakassi Peninsula come 2013.
“The projects planned by government and cross-border relations can only be achieved if the incoming Governor remains vigilant at all times and makes sure that peace, tranquility and calm reign throughout the Southwest Region,” Mr Sadi said.
On welcoming the Minister and the dignitaries to the occasion, Mr Charles Mbella Moki the Mayor for the Buea Municipality said the installation ceremony was an opportunity for the people of the Southwest Region to express sincere thanks to President Paul Biya for elevating Bernard Okalia to the rank of the number one executive officer in the region.
According to the Mayor, “the people of the Southwest subscribe to the great ideas of peace, unity and equality at a time that there are calls for a just, appropriate and transparent management of public resources. As a people, we have always said that our loyalty to the nation is transparent.”
Charles Mbella Moki however did not fail to remind the Minister of the poor road situation of the region and nevertheless said they are hoping that the President's coming to the region will be an opportunity for the problem to be redressed.
Bernard Okalia assumes office as Governor of the Southwest following Presidential Decree No. 2012/109 of 14 March 2012 appointing regional Governors of Cameroon.
He has served the nation variously as Bureau Head for Studies and Statistics in the Department of Budget in the Ministry of Finance, Bureau Head for Store Accountants at the Finance Control of the Ministry of Public Health, Divisional Controller of Finance for Mezam Division in the then Northwest Province, First Assistant S.D.O for Moungo Division in Nkongsamba, Divisional Officer (D.O) for Douala II Sub-Division, D.O for Bafoussam, Secretary General to the Governors Office in the then Far North Province in Maroua, S.D.O of Mvila Division in Ebolowa, S.D.O for Mezam Division in Bamenda, S.D.O for Fako in Limbe and before his appointment, he was the S.D.O for Wouri Division in the Littoral Region.
He was born on December 20, 1957 in Ntui, in the Mbam-and-Kelle Division of the Centre Region of Cameroon. He is married and a father of nine children. He is the 13th Governor of the Southwest region after Enow Tanjong, Fon Fosi Yakumntaw, John Ebong Ngolle, Oben Peter Ashu, Zegue Onyong Charles, Acham Peter Chou, Etame Massoma, Thomas Ejaghem Mbounda, Eyeya Zanga Louis and Koumpa Issa amongst others.
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